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The Red Scare. Communism in America. Red Scare. The term "Red Scare" has been applied to two distinct periods of strong anti-Communism in United States history. The first was from 1917 to 1920, and second was from the late 1940s through the late 1950s.

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the red scare

The Red Scare

Communism in America

red scare
Red Scare
  • The term "Red Scare" has been applied to two distinct periods of strong anti-Communism in United States history.
  • The first was from 1917 to 1920, and second was from the late 1940s through the late 1950s.
These periods were characterized by heightened suspicion of Communists and other radicals, and the fear of widespread infiltration of Communists in U.S. government.
  • A theory or system of social organization based on the holding of all property in common, actual ownership being ascribed to the community as a whole or to the state.
w w i
  • During World War I, a fervent patriotism was prevalent in the country, spurred by propagandist George Creel, chairman of the United States Committee on Public Information. 
  • Anyone who wasn't as patriotic as possible--conscientious objectors, draft dodgers, "slackers," German-Americans, immigrants, Communists--was suspect. 
  • It was out of this patriotism that the Red Scare took hold.
the cold war at home
The Cold War at Home
  • With the Great Depression – tens of thousands of Americans joined the Communist Party.
1950s the new red scare
1950s: The NEW Red Scare
  • Fears of conspiracy.
    • China fell to the Communists in 1949.
  • Were the Communists going to try to overthrow the American government?

Many Americans felt threatened by the rise of Communist governments in Europe & Asia.

Some even felt that Communists could threaten the U.S. government from within.

These fears increased when people found out about some spies selling U.S. government secrets to the Soviets.

commie spies in the us
Commie Spies in the US?
  • Ethel and Julius Rosenberg
    • 1950
    • American Communists
    • Accused of passing atomic bomb secrets to the Soviets
    • Executed 1953
      • Only civilians in the 20th century executed for espionage.
ethel and julius rosenberg
Ethel and Julius Rosenberg
  • Did they do it?
  • Historical debate:
    • They were spies.
      • Julius more than Ethel
    • But did they get the bomb secrets?
      • Unlikely.
    • Did they deserve death?
other spies alger hiss
Other Spies: Alger Hiss
  • Former State Department official
  • Accused by an editor for TIME magazine of being a Communist.
  • Had been a Communist in the 1930s.
  • Was he a spy as accused?
    • Unlikely – but not clear
alger hiss tragedy
Alger Hiss Tragedy
  • Alger Hiss had the right to be a Communist Party member.
  • His civil rights were violated in the pursuit of finding Communists.
  • Spent 4 years in prison and a lifetime in disgrace.
  • 1904 - 1996
reaction to hiss rosenbergs
Reaction to Hiss / Rosenbergs
  • The Loyalty Program
  • McCarran-Walter Act
  • HUAC
  • The Hollywood Ten
the loyalty program
The Loyalty Program
  • Truman created in 1947
    • Background checks on all federal workers done by FBI
    • Anyone with “questionable” activities were accused of disloyalty
the loyalty program1
The Loyalty Program
  • Those accused were sent in front of the Loyalty Review Board.
    • Violated rights of privacy and freedom to associate.
    • Considered guilty until proven innocent.
the loyalty program2
The Loyalty Program
  • Millions were investigated.
  • Few hundred removed from jobs.
  • Added to the climate of suspicion in the nation.
mccarran walter act
McCarran-Walter Act
  • The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) of 1952 restricted immigration into the U.S.
  • The Act allowed the government to deport immigrants or naturalized citizens engaged in subversive activities and also allowed the barring of suspected subversives from entering the country.
It was used over the years to bar members and former members and "fellow travellers" of the Communist Party from entry into the United States, even those who had not been associated with the party for decades.

The U.S. began making more nuclear weapons.

  • So did the Soviet Union.
  • This was called the arms race.Many Americans feared a nuclear attack at any time.
  • They had air-raid drills & fallout shelters to prepare for these attacks.

Nuclear air raid drills were part of everyday life for schoolchildren in the late 1940s and early '50s.

  • Children were taught to "duck and cover" under their desks and were herded into school basements for periodic air raid drills.